The Asia-Pacific region has enormous opportunities for growing businesses. The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific estimates 4.3 billion people live in the Asia-Pacific region, accounting for 60 percent of the global population. When venturing into this vast and diverse market, public relations can have a big impact. Finding a PR firm that understands the area and the business can be critical.
Before launching a product or service in the Asia-Pacific region, here are five steps to take to identify the best PR firm to help the business take root in the area:
1. Identify target countries.
Before selecting a firm, nail down which countries the venture will target. Although they often get lumped together under the Asia-Pacific umbrella, each country has a different language, culture, media and markets. If a PR professional is a specialist in Chinese media relations, they may have no inroads to press in Japan, and vice-versa.
Find a PR firm that is prepared to tackle the specific market(s). For example, India has many English-language tech outlets. Theoretically, a firm based in New York City could manage an account targeted to that market. In China, however, if most important publications are in Chinese, finding professionals who speak the language is key.
2. Decide whether a firm here or in the target market is better.
To begin narrowing down the search for a PR firm, determine where it should be located. A firm based in the region may have greater access to the local audience and will most likely have a strong cultural understanding of the area.
However, domestic options may be easier to work with. Working with firms closer to home means collaborating in the same time zone, which could help to smooth out delays in communication and get work done faster. Although removed from the target audience, domestic firms may have a better understanding of U.S. culture and business, allowing for easier communication and a closer partnership.
Determine which location makes the most sense and start the search.
3. Find a culturally smart firm.
PR firms need to not only understand the different media markets, but also have a firm grasp on the unique cultures of the target countries.
Culture extends beyond local food and traditions. In their working paper on culture and business in Asia, published in the Oxford Handbook of Asian Business Systems, Gordon Redding, Michael Harris Bond and Michael A. Witt suggest that culture is more about shared learning and how people view and interpret the world. The culture of Asia is complicated and intricate. The area represents large cultural variety.
To successfully deliver messages in a diverse area, the PR firm should be familiar with cultural idiosyncrasies. It should know how to approach reporters and media outlets in each country, how to angle pitches to appeal to the local audience and should be wary of cultural sensitivities.
4. Ask for case studies.
The proof is in the pudding. Ask for evidence to gauge a firm’s experience level. Ask what specific activities they’ve performed for similar businesses in that country and the outcomes. Do they have case studies or customer testimonials?
Get all the details to be sure the firm is experienced and will provide the right services.
5. Look for the right experience.
B2B PR knowledge and experience is often different from the skills needed for B2C PR. Firms that have launched apps in China and India will have a different approach and skill set than those that have launched enterprise software in Korea. Determine if the business needs B2B, B2C, or both, and choose a firm that can accommodate those needs.